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Graduate Students


Heidi Esbensen

Heidi received her BS degree in Sociology from Portland State University, transferring in after working on an associate's degree in Early Childhood Education.  She was born in Boulder, CO and has also lived extended stints in Seattle, WA and Lincoln, NE, moving here to Portland in 2008.  She is currently working on a master's degree focusing research in her thesis on low-income single-fathers and how they expereince parenthood with a focus on the intersection and impacts of gender and class.  Overall academic interests include focuses on childrearing, parenting, gender and family.  Heidi is actively engaged in the Sociology Graduate Student Organization, a member of the Pacific Sociological Association, and a lifetime member of Alpha Kappa Delta Honors Society.  Heidi can be reached at

Frank Goulart

Frank is interested in the role of organized labor in relation to globalization and ecological crisis. His research examines the closure of a worker-owned paper mill in Oregon and explores the challenges to achieving regional social sustainability in an era of global capital. Broadly, his interests are in the labor and environmental movements, class, power, theory, and political and economic sociology. Frank’s background is in both business and sociology, and upon entering PSU’s program he was awarded the Laurels scholarship for academic merit and the promotion of diversity. He has worked in public health, supporting county-level research and policy, is currently an information systems consultant to a global metals recycling firm, and has taught courses in computer languages and systems design. After receiving his masters Frank plans to pursue a PhD in sociology. He can be reached at

Katy Griffin

 Katy Griffin received her Bachelor's degree in Development Sociology from Cornell University in 2007, with a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Katy is currently working toward the completion of her Master's degree in Sociology from PSU. Her research utilizes a feminist lens to conduct a gendered analysis of an original ethnographic case study. This study was conducted in a Sri Lankan village residing in the buffer zone of a governmentally protected area. Katy examines natural resource use and management through qualitative interviews. She focuses on household division of labor and the potential impact on mitigating strategies involved in Human Elephant Conflict (HEC). After graduating from PSU Katy hopes to continue her work on HEC through the addition of a comparative transnational component, while also pursuing her Ph.D. Katy can be contacted at

Carol Hernandez Rodriguez

Carol received her B.A. in International Studies and her M.A. in Sociology from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM, Mexico City).  From 2004-2011 she worked as a research assistant for the Center of Interdiscipliary Studies in Sciences and Humanities and as a teacher assistant for the Department of Policial  and Social Sciences in the UNAM.  Carol is interested in Geopolitical and Latin American Studies, particularly in exploring the relationship between nation-state and strategic natural resources.  Now she is focused on studying contemporary Latin American indigenous movements.  She is an enthusiast follower of the Mexican indigenous movement Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional EZLN). Carol can be contacted at

Michelle Holliday

Michelle received her Bachelors degree in Psychology, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Michigan in 2008. She graduated from Drexel University with a Masters in Public Health in 2012 in Philadelphia, PA. While at Drexel University she focused on perinatal HIV prevention and collaborated on a project to analyze the impact of informal reporting of sexual orientation on the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey on data collection practices in the United States. She is currently pursing her Ph.D. at Portland State University and working as an instructor to fulfill her graduate assistantship. Her primary research interest is the relationship between education policy and mental health outcomes for sexual minority youth, in addition to disparities in educational outcomes for racial minorities. She is currently collaborating with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to help promote safe schools across the state of Oregon. You can contact Michelle at

Selected Publications:

Sell RL, Holliday ML. (2014). Sexual Orientation Data Collection Policy in the United State: Public Health Malpractice. American Journal of Public Health: June 2014, Vol. 104, No. 6, pp. 967-969. 

Jennifer Loomis

Jennifer Loomis received her B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish from Colorado State University in 2005. She graduated with her M.A. in Sociology from Colorado State University in 2010. While at Colorado State she collaborated with Engineers without Borders on a potable water project in rural El Salvador. She worked as a research assistant for the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade (CFAT) and the Center for the Study of Crime and Justice (CSCJ) in addition to being a teaching assistant. Her thesis was a case study of a local organic farmers? market in the Andean region of Peru. She sought to develop recommendations to improve demand at the market, contributing to the economic development of small organic farmers in the area. Her research interests are medical sociology, environmental sociology, and disaster studies. Jennifer may be contacted at

Amanda Mercier

Amanda received her bachelor's degree in sociology from Portland State University during which time she received the President's Award for Outstanding University Service for her work in social sustainability and feminist activism.  She is currently working towards her master's degree in sociology with a emphasis on Native American health.  Amanda's thesis examines Native American experiences of the community-based participatory research (CBPR) process within a Native maternal child health collaborative in Portland, Oregon.  Her research is rooted in tribal critical race theory and draws from mixed qualitative methods including in-depth interviews, focus group, and participant observation.  Specifically, her research focuses on the power dynamics of research within Native American populations, and how historical trauma and resilience affect the Native American health outcomes.  Her areas of interests include Native American health, health inequalities, medical sociology, race, gender, intersectionality, community-based participatory research, and qualitative methods. You can contact Amanda at

María Janeth Mosquera Becerra

Janeth graduated in Social Work at the Valle University (Cali-Colombia) and worked for five years in ACUAVALLE, a public utility company in an educational program having to do with the rational use of water in urban contexts. Then, she got a Master’s Degree in Social Work at the Federal University of Pernambuco (Recife-Brazil). Upon her return to Cali, she joined three projects at Valle University in the Faculty of Health. In 2006, she got a Master´s Degree in Epidemiology at the Valle University. As a student and later as an epidemiologist, she joined the Epidemiology and Public Health Group -GESP ( - and worked simultaneously in the FES-Social Foundation Health Division as researcher and at the Valle University as professor. In 2009 she won a Fulbright scholarship. Her current goal is to carry out doctorate studies in sociology with which she intend to strengthen and further integrate the fields she work in: health, environment and urban contexts. More specifically, she is interested in aspects related to health inequalities in urban territories combining qualitative and quantitative methods. You can contact Janeth at

Recent publications:

Mosquera J, Parra D, Gomez LF, Sarmiento OL, Schmid T, and Jacoby E.  An Inside Look at Active Transportation in Bogotá: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. In Press. Acceptance Date: June 22, 2011

Hallal P, Gomez L, Parra D, Lobelo F, Mosquera J, Florindo A, Reis R, Pratt M, Sarmiento OL.
Lessons Learned After 10 Years of IPAQ Use in Brazil and Colombia. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2010, 7(Suppl 2), S259-S264

Gómez L, Mosquera J, Jacoby E. Salud, Vida Activa y Ambientes Urbanos: Las ciudades vuelven a ser importantes. In Obesidad qué Podemos Hacer. Una Mirada desde la Salud Pública. Francisco Mardones Santander (Ed). ED UC. Santiago de Chile. 2009

Mosquera J, Gómez OL, Méndez F. Impact perception on health, social and physical environments of the municipal solid waste disposal site in Cali. Rev. Salud Pública, 2009:11 (4)
Parra D, Gómez L, Pratt M, Sarmiento OL, Mosquera J, Triche E. Policy and Built Environment Changes in Bogotá and their Importance in Health Promotion. Indoor and Built Environment, 2007;16: 344-348.

Cristina Restad

Cristina received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Sociology from Portland State University in 2012.  She had not considered applying to graduate school until she received the support of faculty, fellow students, and friends that is so crucial to a student's success.  This lack of confidence, support, and knowledge of the inner-workings of academia is common among first-generation students like Cristina.  Challenges that non-traditional students face in college are the basis of her current academic interests.  She participated in the Ronald E. McNair Program in 2012; her research project involved analyzing the transmission of academic and social knowledge to students as well as student identity acquisition through McNair Program participation.  She is currently continuing this study into her Master's Thesis.  In addition to serving on the Executive Board of the Sociology Graduate Student Organization and working as a Teaching Assistant, she has recently taken a position as the Undergraduate Advisor in the Sociology Department.  She has also worked in the University Studies Department as a research assistant to the Assessment Coordinator to analyze the unique challenges that transfer students face at PSU.  You may contact Cristina at

Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith is a social epidemiologist in the Safety & Health Research for Prevention (SHARP) program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Caroline received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology/Antropology from Lewis and Clark College, her Master's in Public Health from the University of Washington and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Portland State University. Caroline's research interests are primarily in medical sociology and work and occupations. Specifically her research interests include occupational health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities, contingent workers and other special populations such as older workers and immigrant populations, as well as various types of labor market inequalities (wage inequalities, gender segregation, etc). Caroline is a member of the Pacific Sociological Association, American Sociological Association, American Statistical Association and the American Public Health Association. You can reach Caroline at

Selected publications:

Fan, Z. J., Smith, C. K., & Silverstein, B. A. (2011). Responsiveness of the QuickDASH and SF-12 in workers with neck or upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders: One-year follow-up. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 21(2), 234-243. URL:

Bonauto, D. K., Smith, C. K., Adams, D. A., Fan, Z. J., Silverstein, B. A., & Foley, M. P. (2010). Language preference and non-traumatic low back disorders in Washington state workers' compensation. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(2), 204-215. URL:

Smith, C. K., Bonauto, D. K., Silverstein, B. A., & Wilcox, D. (2010). Inter-rater reliability of physical examinations in a prospective study of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(10), 1014-1018. URL:

Smith, C. K., Silverstein, B. A., Bonauto, D. K., Adams, D., & Joyce Fan, Z. (2010). Temporary workers in Washington State. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(2), 135-145. URL:

Silverstein, B. , Fan, Z. J. , Smith, C. K. , Bao, S. , Howard, N. , Spielholz, P. , . . . Viikari-Juntura, E. (2009). Gender adjustment or stratification in discerning upper extremity musculoskeletal disorder risk? Scand J Work Environ Health, 35(2), 113-126. URL:

Smith, C. K., Silverstein, B. A., Fan, Z. J., Bao, S., & Johnson, P. W. (2009). Psychosocial factors and shoulder symptom development among workers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 52(1), 57-68. URL:

Fan, Z. J., Smith, C. K., & Silverstein, B. A. (2008). Assessing Validity of the QuickDASH and SF-12 as Surveillance Tools among Workers with Neck or Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders. Journal of Hand Therapy, 21(4), 354-365. URL:

Spielholz, P., Cullen, J., Smith, C., Howard, N., Silverstein, B., & Bonauto, D. (2008). Assessment of perceived injury risks and priorities among truck drivers and trucking companies in Washington State. Journal of Safety Research, 39(6), 569-576. URL:

Matthew Town

Matthew Town is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He graduated from Black Hills State University with a Bachelor's in Sociology and Oregon State University with a Master's in Public Health with an emphasis in Global Health. Matthew is pursuing his Ph.D. at Portland State University. Prior to returning to school full time, Matthew worked as a Program Director for the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. His work focused on sexual and reproductive health as well as cancer health disparities among American Indians and Alaska Natives. His areas of interest include indigenous health, health disparities, global health, medical sociology and his research interests focus primarily on community-based participatory research. Matthew is a member of the Native Research Network, American Public Health Association, Pacific Sociological Association, International Network of Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development, and the Portland Area Indian Health Service Institutional Review Board. You can contact Matt at

Kimberli Ulmer Langston

 Kimberli Ulmer graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor's in Human Development and Family Studies, a Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Human Development and Sociology, and a Master's in Sociology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Portland State University and working as an instructor to fulfill her graduate assistantship. Her area of interest is primarily medical sociology from a global perspective with an emphasis on inequality and health disparities within and across nations using quantitative methodology. You can contact Kim Ulmer at

Dylan Waite

Dylan double majored in Sociology and Psychology and graduated from Portland State University in 2008, earning Bachelor of Science degrees in both fields.  After taking sometime away from the university he returned in 2012 and is currently working on his Master's degree.  His thesis focuses on the development of racist and supremacist ideologies among members of the US military.  His research uses adaptations of General Strain and Status Frustration theory to look at the motivations and experiences of individuals who serve in the military while being affiliated with white supremacist groups.  His thesis will focus on 15 qualitative interviews but also includes content analysis of white supremacist and racial extremist literature.  His interests are deviant and criminal behavior, racism, extremism and supremacist groups.  He can be contacted at

Elizabeth Withers

 Elizabeth received her bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oregon, her master's degree in Sociology from Portland State University, and is now working towards her PhD. She has been working with the Portland State Literacy, Language and Technology research group on a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) examining tutor-facilitated digital literacy acquisition in hard to serve populations. This three year project is focused on evaluating the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) which is utilizing Learner Web technology at different sites in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, and Texas. Elizabeth’s interests are in medical sociology and racial and class-based health disparities with a focus on differences in the effects of education and digital literacy. She is interested in research methodologies and in particular mixed methods research designs which she is hoping to utilize in her dissertation research. She is also an active member of the PSU Sociology Graduate Student Organization (SGSO). You can reach Elizabeth at

Bryan Zinschlag

Bryan earned his Bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he majored in Sociology and minored in Philosophy.  He is working towards his Master's degree at Portland State where he is also employed as a teaching and research assistant.  His current research focuses on social dynamics and community building processes in community garden settings.  Bryan is involved with the Sociology Graduate Student Organization and serves as the department's authority on socially conscious hip-hop music. You can contact Bryan at